As the world celebrated Industrial Design Day on June 29, Turkish professionals also held events to celebrate the day throughout the month. A virtual museum consisting of a variety of products designed by Turkish industrial designers was made available for public access on June 12, and an exhibition comprising designed materials that were displayed in windows in shops in the Beyoğlu district from second half of the 19th century onwards was also opened on June 11. In addition, several workshops were held for children to raise awareness of industrial design and increase interest in the profession.
Speaking to Sunday’s Zaman in an interview, Gamze Güven, who is the project coordinator of the virtual museum, said that during their participation at the Tortana Industrial Design Week in April that took place in Milan, a video looking into the minds of Turkish industrial designers was shown to about 40,000 participants from around the world. She noted that in the video, the motto “Rational as Western, Emotional as Eastern” was used to grab the attention of the participants to express the uniqueness of Turkish industrial designers who are influenced by 5,000 years of history and culture in the lands of modern-day Turkey. “In addition to various cultural influences, our slogan ‘Win by Turkish Industrial Design’ was used in order to imply that in Turkey we offer speedy production and a high level of quality which is affordable at the same time,” she commented.
Furthermore, she explained that industrial design items would be very beneficial for the Turkish economy since the designers can attract foreign buyers with their unique sense of design and can export their products abroad. Stating that the İstanbul Development Agency (İKV) gave the Industrial Designers Society of Turkey (ETMK) TL 600,000, which helped achieve some of their goals, including membership to the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) in October 2011, she called on Turkish businesses to come to the understanding that industrial design could play a major role in attracting costumers to their products.
Güven underlined that there are more than 5,000 industrial design graduates currently in the country who posses major potential. However, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which make up the majority of businesses in Turkey, have not yet realized the significance of industrial design for their products. She explained how innovation and design can contribute to an increase in sales ranging from 15 to 75 percent and said, “Marketing, production, design and communication need to be integrated all together for a business to achieve sustainable success.”
Emphasizing that Turkey ranks among the top countries in the industrial design sector in the fields of home and office furniture, jewelry, medical supplies, marine and army items, packaging, kitchenware, electronic items and building materials, she stated, “By holding meetings with local businessmen and designers in each field aiming to resolve the issues, ETMK hopes to expand the industrial design sector and focus on designing items that will increase exports.”
Meanwhile, the ETMK had talks with foreign commercial attachés in 30 countries to promote Turkish design and to invite foreign firms to check out the quality, uniqueness and affordability of Turkish designs. She said, “By attending fairs and connecting with international consumers, we aim to introduce the potential of our advanced and professional designers for consideration,” adding that Turkish designers, whose education has mostly been in modern Western design, have shifted their attention to the cultural heritage of the country in the last 10 years and discovered ways to synthesize modern Western design and traditional Anatolian design into their newer products, which are much in demand, especially from local businessmen.
The ETMK was first established in Ankara in 1988 to introduce the profession to the society in general and develop it as a sector as well as to protect the rights of designers. Since 1994, exhibitions have been held to expand the horizons of designers and raise awareness of the importance of design among industrialists. In 2008, the ETMK began bestowing Design Turkey awards in which the winners are selected by an international board, with the sponsorship of the Turkish Exporters Union and the Economy Ministry.